Mobile firms to generate nearly US$70bn through roaming

23 Sep 2010

Despite the economic downturn and increased regulation of roaming, the global roaming market is tipped to expand by 86pc and could be worth US$70bn by 2015. This is being driven by the massive 246pc growth in revenue terms due to the success of smartphones.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media, the global roaming market is expected to grow by 86pc between 2010 and 2015, delivering revenues of US$67bn, or 6.3pc of total mobile service revenues by the end of this period.

Although revenues are expected to see a slowdown until at least 2012 as a result of the economic downturn and customer cost saving initiatives, a marked upturn is expected from this point onwards as markets recover and as mobile data roaming becomes increasingly prevalent.

“Data roaming, new pricing models and technologies, as well as regulation, are just some of the forces that will transform the roaming market over the next five years,” commented Paul Merry, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Bill shock

“Bill shock remains a major issue for mobile roaming users in those markets where pricing regulation has not been implemented. Moreover, the legacy of bill shock is such that even in regulated markets there is a perception that mobile data roaming is expensive. Overcoming this sensitivity will take time but is critical,” Merry said.

“EU regulations, which limits spend to €50 per trip, are a step in the right direction toward encouraging mobile data roaming use but €50 remains a very high amount for the majority of users, especially the main target market for roaming services in developed markets – the leisure users,” he added.

Mobile data roaming is expected to show substantial growth due to the popularity of app stores and the ongoing success of smartphones, delivering a 28pc CAGR or a 246pc increase for the five-year period.

Roaming is predominately used by enterprise segments that generate around 65pc of total roaming revenue, and are highly price inelastic. In contrast, consumers are an underpenetrated roaming segment and are highly price elastic. Therefore enterprise customers will be more resilient to the economic downturn seeing a CAGR of 17pc compared with just 5pc for leisure users over the forecast period.

Western Europe will remain the largest roaming market, delivering about 41pc of roaming revenues by 2015, followed by Asia Pacific developing with about18pc and North America with about 10pc.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years